Wilder Man’s Glimpse of Alaska

I don’t take the time for such a glimpse, but I found one today. Today’s glimpse? Alaska.  Well worth the time.  If you want to catch the piece that captured my wildness the most, skip forward to 5:33 … and go to 7:58.  By all means, the entire 10:40 video is good.  But part of my vision for this blog is to respect people’s time, as much as possible.

Safety Tip:  the music used in the background triggers something in … in the realm of melancholy.  It’s not that bad anymore.  I just wanted to give you little heads-up in case you’ve experienced a similar reaction.  The guy’s name is Cory Williams, and he has a channel on YouTube called:

DudeLikeHella 

One more thing about Cory Williams.  He moved to Alaska in 2014 (July?) to live in Eagle River, Alaska … quite recently. Approximately a month later, he bought a house. About four months later, he became engage.

Cory Williams records video of himself as he does a flip in the snow at Kincaid Park on Tuesday, Oct. 21. Cory Williams, a video blogger and YouTube personality who posts as Mr. Safety and DudeLikeHELLA, recently moved to Eagle River.Marc Lester / ADN  (Alaska Dispatch News)

In May of this year, Williams married a woman named Kristen Swift.  Talking about some serious change, recently, in a short amount of time!!  This guy is on the move.  I would consider him a true Wilder Man.  But, he may not agree.  This video clip is really cool.  Enjoy.  Here’s the clip, a stellar Wilder Man’s glimpse into Alaska.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9aqsvzhK648

 

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Fiction Fragment Series: Wilder Man & Cold

This post is part of the Fiction Fragment Series; this edition, “Wilder Man & Cold”

Colorado Backcountry Berthoud Pass / weknowsnow.com
Wood Stove
My wood burning stove

Around 5am he stumbled out of the sleep … somewhat like a man emerging from a heavily wooded forest … looked out the hut-window, saw night and snow.  His relative-friend, Melancholy, spoke to him from inside, triggered by darkness and cold outside.  He closed the old faded heavy wool curtain, shutting out the out, guarding the in.  The man was cold.  And the coldness he felt in his soul was … weighty.  His coldness was piercingly emphasized by the winter darkness, by the snow-cold.  The cast iron wood burning stove, immovable, was also cold, showing indifference with the man in this hut.    If a fire was laid, and started, then the stove would heat up, and give heat … to the man in this hut.  If there was no fire, then the stove would stay cold.  The man acknowledged the stove, in its indifference, and grabbed kindling, sticks, small log, and placed it all, intentionally, inside the stove.    Match, lit, its flame brought to a six-inch stick, and the man in the hut edged the burning stick was into the stove, to light the kindling, to bring about some fire.  His anxietous sense of urgency began to diminish.  He stoked the fire.  The warmth permeated his isolated, Siberian-like being.  A new urgency materialized, a passionate need for coffee.  With a similar focus, a sacred and fine tuned focus, the eccentric man in the hut began the detailed requirements for bringing an excellent cup of Mud to the appointed cup.  The cup was eventually filled with the nectar from coffee beans.  The man returned to the wood burning stove and tended to the fire; and then tended to his heart and soul.  The cold had lost some of its power.  But the battles would continue, until the other side of heaven.  And, he knew that.  He knew that all too well.

 

SkunkORama !!! Dog’s Curious, Not Smart

Nocturnal Bark

… has been rare this summer, not only amongst my two dogs, but from other dogs in our woods.  The bigger, more profound, exception (with the nocturnal bark) would be when the bear comes near.  Our dogs have a distinct “bear howl-and-bark” when a bear gets close.  And the other dogs would be in league with ours, a passionate vigilant howling flying out of their bark-boxes through the rocks and trees.

Last night, I heard the Nocturnal Bark, somewhere between 5 and 5:30am. Stash was the only one barking.  I was holding out for the possibility that the barking would stop.  I was not meant to be so fortunate, it appears.  I went outside to the deck, over the garage.  It took a couple of seconds … only a couple of seconds … to recognize one of the most disgusting scents I’ve ever encountered: the spray from a skunk.  You can imagine my first thought.

 

 Mephitidae

Scientific name for the Skunk, which also means
“Stench”

 

I stood on the deck, calling our dog, Stash (Stosh – – – with a short “o”).  I could hear her, but could not see her, in the darkened woods.  I was dreading the possibility that Stash’s focus was on a skunk, and she had no intent of leaving her post to come in.  Shortly after my calling began,  I heard Stash emit what sounded like a playful growl … All I could do is roll my eyes.  I thought to myself:  “She is either getting ready to get sprayed, or … she has already been sprayed, and she thinks that this skunk is playing with her.”  I kept calling, and she kept refusing to come in.  So, I came back in a half-hour, and resumed my calling.  Finally, I heard her rustling / thrashing through the trees, making her way toward me.  She climbed up the steps, through the gate, with the appearance that she had enjoyed playing with someone new in the forest.  I didn’t want to smell the air around her, to determine if she had been successfully targeted by SkunkORama.  I got the gate closed so that she couldn’t go back out to the woods.  This morning, I walked out, cautiously took a whiff, and, to my disappointment, I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that my dog had been skunked.  I know that one of the next things that needs to happen is that I have got get Stash into counseling, so she can push through these issues of acting like an idiot.  Anyone have a referral for a dog counselor?

By the way, here is a picture of our dog, resting.

Dog Stash
Stash Dog, resting, when not upsetting skunks.

 

First Snow, Sort of … WAKE UP!!

The image below was taken on Friday, September 13th.  Some of you have already seen this image.  You might have to expand the picture to make it worth your while.  This first snow started happening around Midnight, between the 12th and the 13th.  I was doing some work that led me late into the night and early morning.  That’s when I noticed.

FirstSnow9_12_14
First Snow

But the whiteness was not that noticeable until after Midnight.  As you can see, it is but a “dusting” of snow, not much of a snowfall.  Yet, it is enough to embarrass me, as I confess that I am  behind on wood cutting … and without excuses, so no compassion is warranted.  I also confess my lack of vision, a truth animated by these cold temperatures and poor visibility from the mist / fog / snowy air.  Simply put, I am heavy with this incoming winter.  Do I have any basis for complaining?  No.
The first snow could have happened before now.  And, thankfulness is what should be happening: God’s gift of seasons; the whiteness to symbolize what is good; the moisture for the trees, and the waterfalls.  Sometimes … in our lives … the coldness comes, poor visibility happens.  After it’s all said and done, we have reason to sing.

By the way, friends, the reason for the delay on this post was because of my other laptop’s demise.  However, Fed Ex drove by about thirty minutes ago with my birthday present.  My birthday has already passed, but thankfulness is high, for this laptop – birthday present.  I decided my first order of business was to finish this post that I attempted to write before the untimely passing of my previous laptop.  Indeed, I am thankful for my wife’s kindness to procure a healthier laptop for me.  Thank you, my dear.  I think, but I’m not sure, that this laptop doesn’t require an oil change every three-thousand miles.  That’s a bonus, eh?

 Have a good winter.

T

Bear Conflict … Resolution???

I was not looking for any trouble.  ‘Serious.  But, I did try to sneak one in … through the wildlife neighborhood.  Tuesday nights I get the trash ready for the pickup on Wednesday morning.  Throughout the winter I brought out the heavy-lidded containers Tuesday night, with a great appreciation for this “hibernation” thing that bears do.

Summer has crept in, as I crept out with my trash containers each Tuesday night.  As of last week, “so far, so good”.  But tonight, my daughter came to me with some sparkle in her eyes, a mischievous smile, “Dad … I think there is a bear out there.  Stash (dog) is going nuts out there on the big deck.  I think I heard something down by the road, beating up on your garbage cans.”

I drove down in the jeep.  As soon as I saw the can laying on its side, its contents spilling out, I saw a black shape move behind, looking at me with his glowing eyes and his bear-smirk, and then he tore off through the trees. The plan was to get out, get the trash container back together again.  The bungee chords didn’t seem to be effective.  As I sat in the driver’s seat, looking around through the trees, my courage had an apparent deficit.
*I did not get a picture of the bear, but I went on line to find one that I thought might be similar … So, the picture below is NOT the bear that came to bother me last night; only a picture of a bear.

I had a tall metal red stick with me.  I have no doubt, whatsoever, that the stick was worthless, for this situation.  Finally, I stepped out, gazed into the trees.   I thought I would see Bear, peering at me through the trees.  Its  probably best that I didn’t see him.  Bear would be laughing, or posturing.  I knew this was ridiculous to drag my feet getting the can upright.  Once the garbage can was all set, I got back in the jeep, drove up the road looking for Bear.

A remote-control camera captured this image of a black bear at Tonto National Monument in 2009.

A remote-control camera captured this image of a black bear at Tonto National Monument in 2009.

http://cronkitenews.asu.edu/assets/images/11/08/24-bears-tonto-full.jpg

 The home up the road, two houses down, had the evidence of Bear’s visit: two garbage cans, with much more of a mess than what was the case with my two garbage cans.  I turned around, drove back … homeward.  When I came over the hill, heading down, I saw the same trash can down, Bear walking away, not running … No, not running … just walking away toward the woods on the other side of the road, looking right at me.

This time, I jumped out of the jeep with my tall red stick, sprinted toward the bear, jumped on him, grabbed the hair of his head, and bit his ear.

HA!  Can you imagine?  No, I didn’t do that.  But I wanted to.  I was really ticked that the jerk came right back, less than 10 minutes later.  No, that’s not right.  This time my wife came up with a good idea that I had forgotten about: ammonia.  Yessss!  I went up to the house, procured the ammonia, came back, served a good helping, and I won’t know if it worked until tomorrow morning.  I’m not going out there again tonight.  As for “conflict resolution”?  No, I’m not interested.  But, I may have to re-think the whole garbage-can situation.

 

 

 

Cuppa Coffee and a Ponderosa Pine

Yesterday morning, with coffee, surveyed the forest, stretching back and upward along the slope of the mountain.  I studied one tree in particular, a Ponderosa Pine, one of several I have sized-up countless times.   It goes up around 75 feet; 14 inches in diameter.  I have known that the tree needs to come down, but its a beautiful tree, or a handsome tree, one or another.  It is a large tree for my eyes; stands like a bull in a china shop.  East, ten feet away, is the roof.  North, fifty feet, is a power line.  South, twenty feet, runs the phone line. That leaves west.  And even then, the phone line on the south and the power line on the north converge, at an angle,  at the pole (west).

I will cut this Ponderosa Pine six feet above the ground and it will miss the lines that come together at the pole, in theory.  I will use three guide ropes.  One is a tow chain.  The guide ropes will pull the tree downward, into the four-foot space between two aspens, in theory.  After I tie off the guide ropes, I go inside and sip some coffee, tempted to stop this insanity.   I consider this venture risky for an inexperienced woodsman. I drink more coffee, review, reassess, and consider these factors:

  1. A professional tree service?  Too expensive;
  2. The tree is too close to the house, and must come down;
  3. I want to get this done, as painful and as intimidating this may be;
  4. I have everything covered, as long as I cut the tree down correctly;
  5. Finally, I am a wilderman, and wildermen all over the world are depending on me to go for it (sounds a bit grandiose).

There is another slight complication: my chainsaw it not running well, and I cannot depend on it until I get a tune-up and a new chainsaw blade.  Therefore, I will be using my axe and my wedges.

After the fastidious, slow, axe-work, front and back, it is time to go to the ropes.  I begin pulling with a slow, rhythmic, technique, increasing the force, the ponderosa pine swaying further and further, until I hear the first “CRACK!”.  My heart is beating a bit faster, and I wonder if I am about to die. When the tree snaps, there will be less than five seconds before the tree slams against the ground.  I will run at the right time, in the right direction, to the right place, without tripping.  The tree is swaying with more intensity now.  I listen as I continue to pull the tree, and .

“CRACK!” . . .

 An ominous sound it is.  The tree is coming for me.  I sprint northwest, twenty feet, crouch behind two Ponderosa, and watch the mammoth tree, seemingly in slow motion, collide with the earth.  Dirt and needles and branches are flying.  The sound is powerful.

I come to the conclusion that, amidst my thankfulness that there has been no property damage nor injuries, I will seek the assistance of some other seasoned wildermen woodsmen if I have another tree experience so challenging.  I go back inside and I make some fresh coffee.  And I will use three guide ropes.

 

 

 

 

Wilderman, Bob Marshall … Tribute

Guys have gone before us, have been in the wilderness due to their calling, mountain creeks running through their veins mixed with their blood that drove them into the unknown.  I want to learn about them, learn from them, with hopes I will be able to teach others along my way, along my “wilderman’s journey”.

Alaska Wilderness: Exploring the Central Brooks Range

Mr. Marshall came around in 1901.  WOW!  ‘Turn of the century.  Not the one we are in now; but the century before this one.  A redemptive haunting came to Bob Marshall from Alaska.  File:Bob Marshall camping.jpg  It would make sense that his book came about from his years of immersion there, an unprecedented wild place.  As you can see, he kept everything he needed  in a small backpack.  I hope that you know I am kidding.  And here is a FYI: I have a volume entitled  Points Unknown: A Century of Great Exploration , a collection of stories published by OUTSIDE BOOKS,  includes  some of Marshall’s book, Alaska Wilderness: Exploring the Central Brooks Range.

Bob Marshall was a forester, a writer.  He climbed.  Mr. Marshall had a robust appreciation for the Brooks Range, Alaska … and a similar appetite for the Adirondacks.  There are 46 peaks in the Adirondacks realm, and Marshall climbed all of them.  Actually, he was one of the first to accomplish that feat, with his feet (I thought that might be a decent joke, but I now have my doubts).  Another book he wrote was Arctic  Village, a 1933 bestseller, which was before my time.  Two years later, Marshall became one of the principal founders of The Wilderness Society.  And that is about all I have to say now, in my effort to practice some brevity.

Here a  small excerpt from his book, found in the collection of stories I referred to above:

 

“At three in the morning I awoke from the noise of rushing water.  It was raining hard when I looked outside and, much to my surprise, I discovered that the water in the quiet slough next to camp had risen almost to the fire, and had become a strong churning current.  I moved the cooking pots back to what I though was a safe place, commented casually to Al on the phenomenal rise of the water, and hurried back to bed.  Moved by my report, Al took one sleepy look out of the tent and immediately was all consternation.  ‘Hurry up!’ he shouted, ‘we’ve got to get out of here quick.  The main river’s cutting back of our island and if we’re not damn fast we’ll be cut off from everything.”

And that is more than I meant to bring to this blog-table.  Hope you enjoyed this encounter with Mr. Robert (Bob) Marshall, an individual I would respectfully consider a wilderman.